I've completed a game along with Carlos Camacho called Z1. It is a space shoot-em up inspired by Gyruss.
It's not quite as polished as I would like it to be, but it is something to be proud of given the little amount of time we had to work on it. I kept a dev journal on tumblr if you are into that. Otherwise, please go vote for our game.
January just finished, and Spring is still a month and a half away. I've been thinking about and planning my garden.
I started by looking through some seed catalogs to get a general idea of what I wanted in my garden this year. After the bazillions of tomatoes last year, I want to give the soil a rest from nightshade and plant some more diverse crops this year. It's been a few years since I've done corn, so this year I'm going to devote a big section to corn. Nothing beats fresh picked corn, and I can use the stalks as filler for my compost bin. I've ordered the seeds, got my seed starter ready and now just need a couple of hours to get it all started.
I'm doing beets again this year, they did well and we all loved them. In addition, I'm trying some new onions. They are supposed to be day length neutral, which might be better suited for this area as we are really close to the day length cutoff. Despite previous failures, I'm going to try cucumbers again. I'm going to grow them among the corn to act as a living mulch along with pumpkins and peas.
Like last year, I'm doing potatoes again. I have already ordered potatoes online and should get them mid March. Even though I made some mistakes last year (dug a few of them way too early) I am hopeful that this year will be as good if not better. It was really nice having fresh grown potatoes last year. Particularly the varieties you don't normally get in the store.
Last Fall, I started some garlic. It is all in one bed and seems to be doing well. I just started cutting down the greens as they come up. They give a milder garlic flavor to dishes you put them in. I worry that I should have been cutting them down earlier, because they are going crazy after having cut them back. I've just been keeping the bed mostly weeded otherwise. I am really looking forward to trying out the 5 different varieties I've planted... A "helpful" worker threw away all of the markers I had for the garlic so I have no idea what variety is where this year. It will all be a surprise.
I've planned and thought. Ordered and bought. Now it's time to go outside and turn the garden beds, add the fertilizers and compost, and get those seeds started. Here's hoping you are as excited about this spring and summer as I am.
So, I bought these bags to grow potatoes in and some potatoes to go in the bags. I got new soil, added fertilizer and watered them as directed, but it took quite some time for sprouts to poke out of the soil. I was really worried that my potato experiment was going to be a failure.
As you can see from the picture, the potatoes are growing quite well. That is one of the six bags. The concept is quite simple, you plant the seed potatoes down near the bottom, cover with a couple inches of soil and keep them watered (but not flooded.) When the plants are about 8" high, add about 4" of soil. As the plants keep growing, keep adding soil until the bag is full as shown to the left here. I'll keep them healthy through watering and maybe another application of fertilizer. Once they've finished growing, the stems will wilt and die back. That's when you are supposed to stop watering them, they'll be ready to harvest after that.
There's a whole science to storing potatoes. I wish I had time and yield to get into that, but I have a feeling that we'll use up most of the potatoes by around Thanksgiving. For my tomatoes, I have it all figured out. Canning tomatoes is simpler than canning most things, because they have such high acid they can be canned at regular boiling temperature. What I did before was to cook down a bunch of tomatoes, run them through a french mill and then can them in regular jars. I'll probably also do some salsa like I did last time. I'll try and post the recipe for that when I get to it.
My tomatoes are doing pretty well, considering the cold start we've gotten on this summer. I'm trying to water them even less this year to see how it affects growth, yield and flavor. I've talked with many people that have completely dry farmed their tomatoes, and it seems like it should work. Especially this year as the temperatures have stayed fairly low here. Here's hoping the temps pick up before wilt sets in.
Lastly, I finally got around to building a real compost bin as recommended in a book. It is four feet by four feet by four feet, which doesn't sound that big until you actually build it and it's sitting there in your yard. But I've already got it about one quarter full of all sorts of yard trimmings and whatnot. What the chickens don't eat of our table scraps is going in there now. I hope to have some nice compost for the garden next year.
Yes, I know, it is still ugly. But much less ugly than before, right?
Did some other housekeeping and a few changes to the comment system to try and keep spammers out. They are persistent, kinda like gophers. Wish I had a deadly trap I could use on them...
I've decided that I'm going to really put some love into my garden this year. We were a little distracted last summer, and the gophers went nutso on my tomatoes... so I didn't get the yield I really wanted. This year, I aim higher.
Last year it was the gophers that did me in. I started and planted almost twenty tomato plants only to see them disappear one by one down gopher holes over the course of one week. They left me one lonely tomato plant. I was heartbroken. In my heart, I finally understood Carl Spackler's pain, as it was now my own. The next weekend, I picked up a gopher elimination kit from Gophers Ltd. The suckers must have seen me coming (or they had gotten their fill and moved on) and disappeared before I could bring out the traps. After they had decimated my crops, I added some broccoli, peppers and zucchini, but my heart just wasn't in it. I had some peppers I really wanted to work, but only got a few small peppers from all eight plants I had in the ground.
This year, I've started over one hundred tomato plants, and they are doing really well now in their rosepots, waiting for May to go into the ground. I've already trapped two of the three gophers I believe are in my yard and sent them to gopher heaven... or limbo, I'm not really sure what their spiritual status was. I have amended and turned the soil in the garden beds, using chicken manure from my own chickens. I've planted and am tending beets, lettuce, bok choy, purple cauliflower, raddichio, spinach, beans and several types of cabbage I plan on harvesting later spring. I still have my sage, chives, thyme, rosemary, oregano and mint from years past growing well, and have some parsley and basil growing very well in a pot. I hope to start some cilantro as well.
I'm going to try and order some potatoes this year and try growing them in sacks if I get a spare moment. I might throw in some zucchini once the beets are grown, as that always makes for a great dinner. I'm also looking at making a couple of garden beds for the front yard where i can start growing dahlias, as they are supposed to do really well here.
I have a positive outlook this year, especially now I know how to manage the gophers.
Fixed the comments here. Sorry if you wanted to comment and were unable to.
So, I've moved to a new blog system that I wrote in Ruby on Rails.
I rewrote it because I needed a better way to do my photos, and I wanted an excuse to use RoR for a real project.
Why is it so ugly? Well, I wanted to get stuff in place and laid out the way I wanted it. That means focussing on the layout and interaction, and not worrying about the colors. There are still a few layout quirks I want to address and then I'll look into making the colors and background less hateful towards the eyes.
A while ago I finished making a scarf for Phoebe. This was a project to try out a basket weave type of pattern, and, other than some sizing issues, it turned out pretty well. I ended up using some yarn that my mom had given me around Christmas that had a really bright color pattern to it.
Scarf for Phoebe
I started by casting on 30 stitches, long tail method. Though I should have only done 20 stitches as I'll get to later. The first five rows were done in garter stitch, so knit on rs and purl on ws. After the five rows I did the following pattern:
- Knit *5, Knit *5, Purl*5, Knit *5, Purl*5, Knit*5
- repeat 1 until you have 5 rows
- Knit *5, Purl *5, Knit*5, Purl *5, Knit*5, Knit*5
- repeat 3 until you have 5 rows
- repeat 1 through 4 until scarf is the length you want, then
- 5 rows of stockinette stitch and bind off.
As you can see, it is a repeating pattern of alternating squares of stockinette stitch with the rs and ws switched every five stitches. The pattern is much more evident in the detail view. This was a great project for me to try out something other than garter or stockinette stitch. The garter stitched edges help keep the edges from curling, giving it a nice straight edge with no blocking.
This was also my first design of my own making, and I learned a bit from it. One thing I should have done was make some test swatches to gauge the correct width. The pattern as is makes a really wide scarf. Phoebe is going to have to have it folded in half to wear it, and because I didn't want to make it too long for her, it ended up looking too short (though it is the perfect size for a 5 year old). I would suggest changing the pattern to casting on 24 stitches, and making the repeats be 4 stitches long instead. Though again, this time I'd do a test swatch of the width to make sure that is what I wanted, as that might still be too wide. Maybe a lighter yarn and smaller needles would have been the correct fix for this.
My garden is now producing somewhat regularly. I can get enough lettuce for two salads about 3 times a week, I'm pulling radishes like crazy, and I've even started getting some spinach and strawberries.
The radishes especially remind me of Spring. When I was young, i remember biting into fresh radishes with their super pungent and aromatically spicy flavor. I love just washing the dirt off, grabbing it by the top, shaking a little salt on it and taking a big bite. They are also really good in salads.
The salads we've had so far are seriously yummy, the lettuce is still warm from the sun, just a quick rinse to get any bugs and dirt off and a quick tear into a salad bowl, throw some thinly sliced radishes on... sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and white wine vinegar and dig in.
The strawberries started out watery, so I cut down on watering them. From every day to every other day or so. It seems to have made the fruits that much sweeter, while still being juicy. I don't know that we'll ever get more than half a dozen ripe at once with the six plants we have, so we'll still be buying them at the Farmer Market.
The tomato plants are in the ground and seem to be growing well. I need to finish the drip irrigation around them. I sowed a bunch of basil seeds among the tomato plants and am hoping I can get those to germinate and thrive under the tomatoes. They're supposed to help keep insects out, and a good tomato salad can't be without fresh basil... right? I've just had such bad luck with basil this year, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.
Very well, thank you for asking!
This is just a quick update on my garden (check out the photos!). The tomatoes I have left are doing very well. I'm going to need to get them in the ground soon, I only hope the average daily temperature warms up a little in the next week. I'm shooting for a May 1st date of getting them in the ground. Then I have to make the cages for them.
I installed a drip irrigation system in the first bed, it seems to be working very well so far, now I just need to add another mainline and water up the second bed. I only worry, because the second bed has some lettuces in it... I think I'll leave the lettuce section dry and water it as needed, rather than try and get all fancy to keep the lettuces drier.
In the first bed, we have the onions and spinach and radishes we planted earlier, all of which are doing well... the radishes are flourishing. To those we've added yellow squash and pumpkins (sugar pumpkins for more soup next fall and winter) which are doing really well having been transplanted from the seed trays. In the photo to the right, you can see the squash and the radishes are in the background. I've put bird netting over the top, and that seems to have really cut down on leaves disappearing from these tiny plants.
In the second bed, we have the aforementioned lettuces which have really benefitted from the bird netting, as well as some anaheim peppers and a cayenne pepper I've transplanted from the seed tray. I've also planted a row of carrots and a couple of hills of zucchini. I planted the zucchini just before the temperatures dropped again, so I'm hoping they'll bounce back up again soon so the zucchini can germinate. I'm leaving room in that bed for a couple more peppers, another row or two of carrots and the broccoli.
Speaking of broccoli, I just this morning transplanted them from the seed tray to their own rose pots. I have to admit I've never seen broccoli actually growing, so this will be an eye opener for me. I've been really happy with how well the seeds have germinated, and hope to have some real success with this particular vegetable, as nothing beats fresh broccoli... except for maybe fresh carrots... and fresh peas. I can hardly wait for the first salad of the year from our garden.
So far (knock on wood) we've had very little problem with gophers. I have a little sonic annoyer in the ground that seems to be mostly working. However, if the gophers start wreaking havoc, I'm gonna have to go medieval on them and hire professional hitmen to take them out. It wasn't until they ransacked swaths of my garden last year that I understood Bill Murray's character in Caddy Shack. Carl Spackler, I feel your pain.
I've also just started on vermicomposting. The city of Santa Cruz has a subsidy for composting kits and I chose the Worm Factory and a half pound of Red Wrigglers. They seem to be doing well after a week in there. We'll see if they're still kicking after a month.
So, wish me luck on my gardening endeavors. Maybe we'll invite you over to dinner once we start harvesting!
Gardening is my new geek focus, my Big Project. As I've blogged recently, I've got a flat of tomato seedlings gaining strength for when the ground gets warmer. Oh, you didn't know that tomatoes need the soil to maintain 60º F in order to thrive? That's the kind of information that really gets my geek on with gardening.
It turns out there are a lot of places on the web to get great information about gardening. I've been following and even took the tomato class from Cynthia at growbetterveggies.com, which was great. I encourage you to sign up for the next class if you think you have a little gardening geek in you. Cynthia understands gardening (especially tomatoes) in a way only someone with a real inquisitiveness can. She studies and experiments every year and encourages others to do the same.
Gardening is one of those pastimes that can return huge dividends based on how much attention you are willing to give it. Since I am focussing my energy on it fully this year, I expect to get a better than average garden.
For my tomato seedlings, I spent quite a bit of effort looking for a fan. Having the fan blow on them for a few hours a day stimulates stem thickness and strengthens the plants. Sandy finally found one at an artists supply store. I built a little stand for a grow light (basically, an under cabinet fluorescent fixture with a plant bulb in it). This allows them to grow strong despite the fact that we don't have a great place for direct sunlight in our house.
Last week, I spent four days creating and amending raised beds in the garden. I grabbed a bunch of 1 by 8 fencing in 6 foot lengths. I knew I wanted 10 foot by 3 foot beds, so I used 5 boards for each bed. One board I cut in half as the ends, the others, I took a foot off of the end. I used two of those foot long pieces to join together two of the 5 foot sections each. I then took some 2 by 2 that I cut to match the width of the other boards and used those to connect at the corners. I used zinc plated screws, so if something goes wrong, I might be able to just pop off some screws and screw down a new board. I haven't treated the boards with anything, and I just used common redwood, why spend for the expensive heart redwood?
To put them into place, Sandy and I dug down a little and created a level trench that the beds would sit in. We removed some soil from between the beds and added a good 3 inches of mulch between and around all of the beds. I then added, in order, humic acid, chicken poop (about 2 inches worth), Dr. Earth's fertilizer with a bit more P and K, to make up for all the N in the chicken poop, topsoil from what we took out, and some soil building compost (about an inch and a half's worth). Needless to say, that was quite a few trips to The Garden Co and OSH. I then gave all that new soil a quick turn. I had bought a manure fork for that, but it broke on the second turn, so we had to return it and get the more expensive one.
Sandy's parents had brought us some onions, so Zach, Phoebe and I planted those in the new soil. I'm still trying to figure out what I really want to plant in the beds this year. I know I'll do at least one hill of pumpkins, and at least a few pepper plants. Other than that, I'm still mulling it over. If you have any ideas, leave a comment.
Last Sunday, I took a class on how to germinate tomato seeds with Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farms. It was a great class with lots and lots of ideas for getting the most out of your garden tomatoes. During the class we sow a flat of seeds, which we take home and then are supposed to nurture into seven foot tall tomato plants, laden with so many fruits that my small garden plot will solve world hunger. Well, at least some are supposed to survive, and then hopefully thrive.
I saw my first little shoots this morning, they are just the smallest little white roots sticking out. I was expecting to see them tomorrow at the earliest, so it is exciting to see the little buggers fighting their way out of the soil.
Now they are sitting uncovered, on a seedling heating mat. I still need to get a cheap grow light and a small fan in order to do what Cynthia told us to do. And since she's the "crazy tomato lady" I'm gonna listen to what she says!
In a few weeks, they should be big enough to transplant into slightly bigger pots. Then, hopefully, by May 1st, I'll have quite a few plants to put in the ground. I've promised a few starters to my in-laws as well... and with a potential (if all seeds germinate and survive) 144 tomato plants, I might be looking for homes for my babies.
You're there, at the head of the line, ordering your coffee drink from some cashier more hip than you. Said cashier asks for your name, what should you do?
Introducing the "Coffee Name"
Your Coffee Name is the name you give to people that ask your name for the purpose of writing it on some cup, to be forgotten the moment the pen gets the cap put back on. Your Coffee Name could be your real name, but where is the fun in that? I'm starting a movement that says that your Coffee Name should be different from your real name. My current Coffee Name is Gunther. I like the way it sounds. I can't imagine a Gunther ordering a half calf skinny latte with two Sweet-N-Lows™, and so Gunther won't order that.
Practical reasons for a Coffee Name
I work with a person who's name is very difficult. He's Finnish, so don't feel sorry for him. I noticed when we went out for coffee that he gave his name as Justin, not very far from his real name, but then, not exactly his real name. He explained that he got tired of trying to explain both how to spell and then how to pronounce his name.
Another co-worker has an exceedingly common name, every time they announce his name, he has to look around to see if someone else with his name is coming forward. He then asks the barista whether it is, in fact, his drink. That man needs a coffee name, and something really exotic. Or, he could mess me up by choosing Doug as his coffee name... damned Chai drinking hippy that he is, I can see him doing that.
Choose your own Coffee Name, try it out for a while, like trying on sunglasses at the store. When you tire of that name, choose a new one. You could even use different ones at different coffee houses. Heck, I think it would be fun to choose a real Poindexter name at one spot and a cool name (like Gunther) for another. Just choose something and add a little surreality to everyone's life.
Two years ago, Zach and I bought equipment for the slopes (he got skis, I got a snowboard) after the snow season. Needless to say, last year, the snowfall was miniscule. We went to the slopes once last year, right after a snowstorm... the only snowstorm of the year. It just didn't seem worth the effort to drive all the way up, pay for lift tickets just to be disappointed with few open runs and sloppy snow.
This year has almost made up for it though. We've gone to the snow two separate times now (Kirkwood). Both times we drove up the day before, rode for one or two days, and then drove home after a good night's sleep. It's been so nice that Sandy has even bought a pair of skis and boots and loves shooshing down the mountain at her own pace.
The really fun part is watching the kids take to skiing. Zach has a natural kinesthetic ability with any sport he tries, and Phoebe is so fearless they are both going to be much better than I will ever be.
Phoebe's taken 3 lessons so far and is really taking to it. She loves going up the chair lift with the instructors and has gotten so she can really zoom down the mountain. She also enjoys throwing snowballs at her instructors and loves, loves, LOVES eating snow. Turns out the dirtier it is the better she likes it... sigh.
We bought her goggles and a helmet, which she has decorated with stickers. You can just make out the stickers in the picture to the left. We'll get her skis after she grows just a little bit more.
Zach is about ready to take on the entire mountain. The first time we went, we got him a full day lesson. By the end of that day he was confident on the bunny slopes. The next time we went, we ended up putting him in a half day lesson. Then he spent the rest of that day skiing with Danny, Raul and me.
After Zach's half day lesson he was excited to show us a run off of the beaten path. "It's called the Ditch of Doom," he told us matter of factly. He led us towards a green (easy) run. All of a sudden, he drops into a tree lined gully. Not wanting to seem like chickens, we all followed. We wound around through this gully, up the sides, over jumps, ducking under trees... he really showed me another side to riding on the mountain.
Zach took a few faceplants that day and the next, but almost always came up laughing. He took some real chances, and was willing to go fast, take the big jump and wipe out if it didn't work.
Sandy went with us to the "Ditch of Doom" but stayed on the green run instead of going with us. That was probably a good idea.
Sandy did, however, go to the jumping terrain area, which she enjoyed.
I've found that having gone twice, and planning to go again means that I feel like I'm actually getting better at riding. Before, with my one trip a year, I spent most of the time just getting back to the level I had ended at the previous year. Now, I'm definitely moving forward and learning more each time I go. And with Zach to push me into new areas, I can't help but feel really excited for our next trip.
Waking early is good for you
Waking early is a great first step in taking control of your life. Developing the waking early habit allows you to have more time and energy to focus on things you might not have the time for now. Some other benefits to waking early include:
You are not as rushed in the morning
This means you can make a nice breakfast, and you won't be running around trying to get everyone off to school and work in a panic. You can have time to do those things you never seem to have the time or energy for.
You are better rested
This allows you to hit your stride earlier in the morning. You'll be more productive (and pleasant to be around) at an earlier time. It's easier to go to bed early when you know you're going to have time when you wake up. Often we stay up late because we are trying to finish some task we don't have the energy for.
It is good alone time
If you are doing the waking early habit by yourself, early morning is a great time to have some quiet space for yourself.
It is nice to see the sunrise in the morning
Don't underestimate the power of watching the sunrise every morning. It can be very rejuvenating and uplifting.
The evening energy suck
Evening time for me, and for many others, is a productivity hole. We are tired, but not sleepy. We have this feeling that we need to be doing something productive with this time, dishes, exercise, writing blog articles, etc. However, we end up sitting around, watching television, reading or even just talking with our loved ones. These things are not bad, but they make us feel guilty for not doing what we think we should be doing. Guilt is never a great motivator, it usually demotivates and saps your energy even further.
Waking early combats that. Knowing that you are going to have time in the morning allows you to relax and night; it keeps you from feeling guilty for watching television or reading or talking. It can be motivating to get yourself set up for the morning, knowing that it will be a productive time for you.
Take back that energy by being productive in the morning.
Forming the habit takes commitment
Waking early one day is simple. Doing it everyday is difficult without some good strategies. Take the evil snooze alarm as an example. It makes it simple to say, "Oh, I'll just sleep a little while longer." Nine minutes becomes 18 which then becomes 27... and before you know it you've blown your morning and end up rushing.
Living with others can make waking early more difficult as well. They may not appreciate your new lifestyle, and in fact it may annoy them to hear you up and about while they're trying to get that extra sleep that you now know they don't really need. You'll need to make a compromise with them, you'll try to keep things quiet (no using the bandsaw at 6am) and keep the lights low or the bedroom doors closed if they promise not to sabotage your efforts. You can also use the morning time to make them a nice packed lunch or even a good breakfast. Changing your morning routine may mean changing your evening routine. But, as I said above, oftentimes that can be a good thing. As a general rule, you don't have to go to bed two hours earlier in order to wake two hours earlier. It just means you need to commit to going to bed when you are sleepy. If you can't consistently go to bed when you are tired, that's where this habit will break down. Try to get others in your household to respect your new timing.
Waking early is a habit that needs to be formed. Research shows that it takes 21 days of applied effort to form a new habit or break an old one. At some point in the formation of this habit you'll be tired and cranky in the morning. This is where you need to have some form of reward for yourself for waking early. For much of the time, the feeling of accomplishment and the extra productivity are a good reward, but there are times that it won't be enough. We respond well to rewards, as they can give us that extra little boost we need to stick with a newly forming habit.
What would you do with the extra time?
What would you do with an extra half hour? extra hour? extra two hours?
Extra half hour
An extra half hour is just enough to make you less rushed in the morning. It means you have time to sit down and enjoy a good cup of coffee or tea. Or you can have time for a luxurious shower/shave. Maybe it gives you the extra time needed to pack your lunch instead of grabbing fast food while at work.
An extra hour gives you time to actually do something in the morning.
- Make a nice breakfast
- Throw meat and veggies into the slow cooker for dinner that night
- Read the newspaper or catch up on RSS feeds
- Practice something - juggling, piano (quietly!), meditation, knife throwing
- Work on a project you don't normally have time for
- Do dishes laundry or some other chore (I always loved the morning time in summer for gardening)
- Exercise - morning is a great time to exercise
Two hours of extra morning time means you've moved into the realm of having the time to do multiple things. You can do dishes, make breakfast and still have time to read the paper. Exercise, have a nice breakfast and have a nice luxurious shower/shave. Bake some bread and write your next blog post. Basically you can take everything you can think of for one hour and do two of them and still not feel rushed.
You should also break things up, don't do the exact same thing every morning, break up the tasks so it doesn't feel monotonous and boring. Just make sure that there is always something fun in there, something that will feel like a reward. It helps you to get up in the morning is you have an inkling of what you want to do with the extra time. So start thinking now about what you'll do with that extra time.
"I'm convinced! Now how do I really do it?"
There are lots of pointers for establishing this habit, some are simple and some are strange. Use the ones you like and ignore the ones that don't work for you.
Use an alarm and get up the same time every day
This is the most effective way to generate the habit... make it a regular habit!
Never, ever hit the snooze button
Snooze alarms are the worst invention ever made. If you set the alarm for 6:30 and you hit the snooze until 7:00... you've not only cheated yourself out of half an hour of awake time, but half an hour of sleep time. Nine minutes is almost enough time to get you into stage two sleep, but not enough time to benefit form the extra rest. Set the alarm for 7:00 and resolve to get up when the alarm first goes off.
Start easy, then dial it back
Once you've broken the snooze habit and you can get up consistently at the same time, start dialing back the alarm in 15 minute increments. After a couple of days of success with the new time, dial it back again. How many days of acclimation you need is a personal thing. You'll know it's time to dial it back when you find yourself wishing for more time in the morning or if you find your self consistently getting up just before the alarm goes off. If you really want to short circuit the process, make one big leap at the transition from daylight savings to standard time in the fall (sorry Arizona.)
Establish a wake up routine
My wake up routine is to get up out of bed, turn off the alarm, do my bathroom business, and then I walk through the rest of the house opening all of the blinds. By the time I get back to the kitchen I'm fully awake and ready to start the tea kettle heating. Having a routine like this makes the habit go into autopilot. Having a habit that is on autopilot means you'll do the habit without thinking about it.
Practice your wake up routine when you're awake
Steve Pavlina has a great article on this. Basically, in the middle of the day when you are awake and unlikely to hit the snooze, darken your room, set the alarm for a few minutes from now and get in bed. When the alarm goes off, very consciously do your routine. By practicing when you are awake, it becomes easier to train the habit. Getting up and performing your routine when the alarm goes off becomes a Pavlovian response.
Make sure you find a way to reward yourself. It can be something that you are doing with the extra time in the morning, or it can be a treat you allow yourself later in the day.
One habit at a time
If you are looking at waking early as a way to start exercising, don't. First focus on the waking early habit for at least 21 days, so it becomes habit. Feel free to exercise every once in a while with your extra time, just don't try and use habit forming strategies to make it regular. If you add the exercise habit while still trying to do the waking early habit, you now have two stressors - either of which can keep you in bed. When the alarm goes off, you'll think, "It's nice and warm in here. And I'm too sore from yesterday to workout today, so do I really need to get up? I need the extra sleep." And next thing you know you've hit the snooze 4 times. Once you've established waking early as a habit, adding the exercise habit should be much simpler. You're awake anyways, might as well exercise.
Allow yourself cheat days
Cheat days are those days that you decide that you've done your 21 days and have the habit well established, and you deserve a day to sleep in a little. Some people have scheduled cheat days. Mine is Friday mornings, as I play hockey Thursday nights and can get home pretty late from that. Only allow yourself to cheat if you've decided on it the night before. Your just awoken by the alarm brain is not the best judge of when you need a cheat day. Having the option for cheat days is important as it keeps you from resenting your new habit when an opportunity for late night fun presents itself. You don't want to feel guilty for staying out late or you'll resent the whole waking early lifestyle. Just be careful that cheating doesn't become the new habit.
Drink lots of water before bed
If you do this just right, your bladder and your alarm will work together to get you out of bed.
Have an idea of what you'll do with the extra time before you go to bed
This does not mean you need to completely plan out your morning the night before, but you should have an idea of what you might like to do with the extra time. It acts as an extra motivator for getting up.
Be willing to nap
I know that not everyone has the luxury of being able to take a nap. However, if you can afford 20 minutes to put your head down on your desk and you're willing to do it if needed, you'll feel more comfortable about waking early. If I'm really tired in the morning, knowing that I can take a nap if I get too tired later really helps get me out of bed. I've found that when I'm tired during the day, my productivity goes way down. If I can take a 20 minute power nap, just resting my head in my hands and drifting off, I can greatly increase my productivity for the rest of my day.
No plan is foolproof, and it is likely you'll be halfway into setting your habit when you find yourself hitting the snooze a couple of days in a row. Don't get angry with yourself, just take the steps necessary to get back on track.
Go to sleep when you're tired
This, along with getting up consistently at the same time are the most effective ways of training this habit.
Waking early has lots of benefits, many of which only become apparent once you made it a habit. You'll find you have more energy throughout the day and that your daily productivity really soars. I was able to write this article by devoting some extra time every morning to getting it done. Other benefits that don't seem as obvious at first are: it gives you good alone time, being up and able to watch the sun rise, and that you hit your stride much earlier in the day. Knowing what you are going to do in the morning can make your evenings much more relaxed. Regain that "wasted" evening time. Having a reward and knowing what you are going to do in the morning means there is a reason to wake up early.
By following a plan for achieving your habit, you'll reduce the likelihood of failure. Practicing that plan for 21 days straight will make that practice into a habit.
- Steve Pavlina's 30 day challenge
- Good advice on creating good habits
- Google answers info on 30 days vs 21 days
- More on the 21 day habit forming science
- Generic article on waking early from Steve Pavlina
- Part 2 of Steve Pavlina's waking early article
- Using midday practice to build the habit
- ZenHabits article on rising early
- Reasons to wake early
- Motivation for waking early
- Making your morning easier by being productive in the evening
- Article on power naps
- Wikipedia article on power naps
- Snooze alarms are bad
- Bed shaking alarm clock
- This alarm clock requires you to get out of bed to turn it off
- Another variation on the mobile alarm clock